celiac disease

Definition / meaning of celiac disease

A digestive disease that is caused by an immune response to a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Celiac disease damages the lining of the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food. A person with celiac disease may become malnourished no matter how much food is consumed.

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Source(s):

The Web site of the National Cancer Institute (http://www.cancer.gov/)

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